The hardest part of my day is often immediately followed by one of my favorite parts of the day. Sound  like a strange juxtaposition? Welcome to motherhood. It is the biggest mixed bag of them all, filled with kisses, screaming, snuggles, whining, heart-bursting-aching-love, messes, and poop.

I detest bedtime- I’m quite certain I’m not alone on that one. In fact, the last few hours of the day can be rough; I have previously referred to the time of the day that begins with dinner preparation and ends with the shitshow that is bedtime as both Crappy Hour and The Witching Hour. Not pleasant. But as soon as the last inane request has been granted, the last glass of water filled, bedtime ponytail completed, blanket tucked, and final muttered curse on the way up the stairs yet again uttered, there is quiet. It is beautiful.

This is the time of day when parents unwind, reflecting on their triumphs and public humiliations, and get to just be again. Be humans. Be themselves. Be a married couple, perhaps, or be alone. Sometimes it only takes me ten minutes before I reflect fondly on our day, crazy and messy though it may have been, and even look forward to seeing my kids again the next morning. Every once in awhile, I almost miss them once they are asleep. Insane, right?

Another rough part of my day is waking up in the morning. Even though my youngest is sleeping through the night, I find myself craving just a few. more. minutes. of sleep. Nearly every day I wake up bleary eyed and in a stupor, often disoriented from a dream I had about a fellow blogger doing a headstand on the Today show, being chased by a duck-billed platypus, and comforting an exhausted Justin Bieber. (Yes, that is a real dream I just had. All of those baffling occurrences were part of one dream.)

I stumble down the stairs, my joints aching as though I am a septogenarian, my head spinning as though I may be drunk or hungover or both, and my feet almost missing the steps. One of these days I am going to fall down the stairs, I am certain. I fill my toddler’s largest sippy cup with milk, climb back upstairs, retrieve her from her crib, along with Moose, Night-night Bunny, and Fat Cat (because every frickin’ last one of those suckers must accompany Her Royal Highness wherever she goes) and plop back into bed.

not morning personNow here is where one of my other daily favorite moments begins: my toddler reclines against me after I sink back into the pillows, often closing my eyes for a few more minutes of disjointed sleep. When she has finished her milk, she thrusts her cup into my hand, announcing, “Ah done!” and then rolls over against me, tummy to tummy. As she snuggles against me, warm against my body, I feel my heart swell. I adore this daily ritual.

Generally her big sister stumbles into the room shortly thereafter and joins us in bed. Sometimes this just amplifies the love-fest, but lately they have begun to compete over my affections, as my husband has already left for work for the morning and is not available for cuddling. My six year old will try to worm her way into my grasp, and I will put an arm around her and kiss her head. This seems to anger my toddler, who just the other day pushed her sister away, tightened her grasp around my waist and shouted, “My job!” (If you are a Montessorian, you may recognize this toddler declaration of “jobs”.) But I digress.

This sleepy snuggling time, prior to the Morning Scramble (I have written frequently about how much I abhor this part of my day, hence I will not focus on mornings being the hardest part of my day in this post. Though they are chaotic, magnify my maternal ineptitude, and frequently cause me to swear. Again, I digress.) is a haven in our busy day. It 20-30 minutes when we get to be together and be still, though oddly sandwiched between the early morning stumble down the stairs and the rat race to get out the door on time.

Earlier this week I speculated on whether people without kids are happier than parents. It was an interesting discussion (read the comments- they’re great!) and caused me to reflect even more on the highs and lows of motherhood, and how they relate to the overall package of “happiness”.  I honestly find it impossible to separate the good from the bad in parenthood. The fact is, they are infuriatingly woven together, making it impossible sometimes to identify a “good” day from a “bad” day. My best and worst parts of the day are just one more example of how we will always live our lives this way, taking the good with the bad.Motherhoodgoodbad


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